It gives me immense pleasure to announce another year of good performance on bothfinancial and operational parameters across our business segments. The fiscal year 2017-18turned out to be a watershed year in the history of your Company as our total revenuesincluding other income and EBITA increased to about ' 1106 crores and ' 100 croresrespectively. Your Company showed a significant improvement in its performance as comparedto the previous year and posted net profit of ' 52 crores reflecting an increase of 264%YoY.
In order to achieve our target of becoming a debt free Company Board has recomendeddividend @ 25% in FY 2018 to conserve cash. Going forward our dividend pay out will alignwith the cash generated.
The inherent strength in our strong balance sheet coupled with a low debt-equity ratioand conservative financial profile has led to upward revision in the long-term creditrating twice in the last financial year. We conti nue to work hard on our working capitaland Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) and are sure of improving it further.
While the global economy continues to grow the Indian economy is firing on allcylinders now and has reclaimed its fastest growing economy tag after posting a strong7.7% increase in the last quarter of 2017-18. The Indian economy has overcome thetemporary disruptions caused by the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) inthe first half of 2017 and by the second half of the year the economy witnessed upsurgein investments consumption as well as government spending. Industrial activity reboundedand services indicators also showed positive trends. Moreover India has moved into thetop 100 rankings on the World Bank's 'ease of doing business' index for the first time onthe back of a series of sustained structural policy reforms undertaken by the governmentover the past several years. The improvement in the rankings is likely to help the countryto attract new investments both from foreign and domestic investors.
Riding on structural policy reforms thrust on infrastructure spending by thegovernment robust private consumption and strengthening investment and increasedmanufacturing activities the Indian economy is expected to strengthen further and isexpected to clock a growth of about 7.3% in 2018-19. Though the outlook for the yearremains positive we continue to see emerging headwinds in the form of rising tradeprotectionism geo political risks and increase in prices of steel crude oil andcommodity leading to inflationary risk. As such we are keenly keeping track of all theevents which might lead the government to revisit its policies and impose unforeseenhurdles on India's road to higher growth rate. Finally the outcome of the 2019 GeneralElections will also have an impact on our growth plans if there are any marked deviationsfrom the existing policies by the new government.
Your Company continues to benefit from integrated business model wide productportfolio and scale economics which provide us with a high degree of earnings stability.India remains a key growth market for infrastructure development and we are activelytargeti ng to capture a slice of the growing domesti c demand by using our unutilizedcapacity. Each of our four verticals have enormous potential for growth as each verticalrepresents a strong pivot for the development of Indian economy - agricultureinfrastructure construct! on and manufaturing and are aligned with India's developmentstory. All our businesses endeavor to deliver superior value to our stakeholders. Ourcustomer base has been continuously increasing and we have been able to strengthen ourleadership / market positions. Our thrust on developing next generati on cranes has givenus significant competitive edge as compared to our competitors. We have developed severalnew pathbreaking products which have received good acceptance from our customers leadingto increase in the market share. Going forward we will be introducing cetain gamechanging products and technologies in our existing product categories which will enable usto rise above the competitive landscape.
Looking at the tremendous global opportuniti es we have also strengthened our exportarm and forayed into new territories with our tractors cranes and constructionequipments. Going forward we intend to enhance the quantum of our exports substantiallyas there is an increasing demand for our products which are being well accepted by theglobal customers.
Sharp focus on marketing vibrant customer relationship extensive product offeringssuiting the needs of every customer coupled with continuing investments in R&D willdrive the future growth of your Company. Our products stand out in terms ofvalue-for-money low maintenance cost and attractive resale value. We continue to leverageour world class R&D infrastructure to deliver high quality products at a costeffective prices. Our dedicated R&D Centers have allowed us to focus on variousinnovative product categories and helped us in launching new products that are in tunewith the customer needs. We keep abreast of new developments and ongoing technologicalchallenges and work with an open mind to arrive at the best possible soluti ons. OurR&D teams work with a focus to ensure that ACE always remains at the forefront ofinnovation enabling us to capitalize on emerging new opportunities.
We are taking various initiatives at strategic and ground level and are committed tocontinue with our operational excellence journey in the coming financial year.
Our Social Responsibility and Sustainability efforts continue to win us laurels as weundertake these with pure beliefs and conviction like our commercial activities. The factthat our efforts are intrinsic to our strategy and not something that we are forced to doby regulatory mandate is what makes us different from others.
As we step into our 24th Year we are cognizant of the fact that while much has beendone we live in a world full of volatility uncertainty and complexity and only thefittest survive. Keeping this in perspective we will conti nue to work towards taking theCompany to newer heights and enhancing shareholder value.
I would like to place on record my sincere appreciati on to the Board of Directors fortheir guidance. I would also like to express my gratitude to all our stakeholders fortheir conti nuing faith in ACE.
With best wishes
Sincerely Vijay Agarwal Chairman & Managing Director